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Writing Meaningful Songs At 14...


Taylor704

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Hey guys, im new to this forum (only posted 1 topic so far)

 

I'm in a band with a few guys after school on fridays, we play for fun and we decided to write our first song! *holds for applause*

 

But when we tried to write a song together it ended badly with some band conflict which had to be resolved, so we decided it was better to work alone and share ideas when we meet up. So i gave it a try and i find it really hard to write something soulful and meaningful lyrics without it sounding like a really bad MCR song. I listen to stuff like Radiohead, Bloc Party, Editors, The Smiths, Depeche Mode and a heap more, and alot of their lyrics combine with their melodies to really speak to me.

 

It also doesnt help the guys around me dont even know who Radiohead are and they dont listen to good music IMO (Jet, Panic, Fall Out Boy, RHCP etc).

 

Is there anyone who can shine a light onto my annoying problem?

Any help is much appreciated

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Hey, Taylor...

 

First let me do my mod thing: Welcome to the Songwriting Forum!

 

The basic mission of the forum is the discussion of the art and craft of songwriting and offering assistance with feedback and constructive criticism on works on new songs and other works in progress. Of course, giving thoughtful comment requires some time and energy.

 

Like so much in life -- what you get out of it will likely depend on what you put in...

 

I hope you'll share your insight with others when they're looking for critiques -- it's a great way to let people get to know you. And the more that people know you as someone who is willing to help out, the more eager they'll be to help you when you're looking for some good ol' constructive crit.

 

 

 

Now... on to your specific concerns...

 

Honest, it sounds like you have your head pretty well together for a 14 year old so I'm going to give you some grown up advice that I think you'll take in the right light...

 

 

The more you live, generally speaking, the more you'll have to write about. (That said, Emily Dickenson did a whole lot of writing but very little real world living... and she had her fans. ;) )

 

It probably will not hurt you at all to keep on listening to intelligent music and -- be real iconoclast -- doing some intelligent reading.

 

You can get a real leg up on life through books. While your boring school friends will all be rushing off to see the latest FX and explosion laden brain-vacuuming movies, you can be traveling the world and having experiences they wouldn't even know to dream about -- all through books. Increasingly, books will be the key to secret realms that those who get their culture out of canned laughter TV and big-bang movies can't even begin to fathom.

 

 

With regard to collaborative writing... it can be a tough one. Sometimes you just click... sometimes not. Sometimes you can learn to work together and be all the richer -- sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and write separately. In the limited pool of a typical high school it might be tough to find your musical soul mates.

 

But you can still learn plenty from the band experience, whether or not you end up writing with your bandmates. You can learn about working cooperatively, teamwork, sublimation of ego for the good of the effort -- or the opposites, of course. ;)

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What friendly mods, why thank you, i think this is the first forum that that has happened =] I do try and keep my head together with things that mean something instead of tripe played on the radio which a 5 year old could come up with.

 

Ironic you mention reading, today i borrowed Dracula from my local library (it may be a bit young for me but i also like a bit of horror writing, especially when Dracula is considered a masterpiece by many). I also have a copy of Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder coming in the post, an introduction to philosophy for starting my A Level RS next year (i do exams a year early).

 

It is true that people who have eventful lives will have much more to write about and to come from the heart, which is sad from my point of view because by my own standards, i've led a pretty normal life so far. I havent lost anyone i loved and i havent had major life changing experiences yet. I suppose its to come in the future =]

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I havent lost anyone i loved...

 

 

Consider yourself fortunate my friend. You don't have to have these types of experiences to write about them. That is the beauty of fiction.

 

That being said, with experience comes a certain perspective that is tough to fake. But it can be done.

 

At 14 and already pondering on how to write meaningful lyrics, you have a head start on the majority of the folks out there your same age. I was in my early twenties when I wrote my first song (though I'd been writing poetry since about your age).

 

Anyways, keep at it. Like Blue2Blue said, reading voraciously is one habit of some of the greatest writers out there. It increases your vocabulary, opens the doors of creativity, and gives you someone else's perspective on something you may not have ever experienced (which can be food for your own lyrics and writings).

 

BTW don't be afraid to listen to music outside the genre of music you play (blues, folk, etc.). It helps widen your spectrum not only lyrically but musically as well.

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Hate to break it ya kid, but most people SUCK at songwriting when they're 14. Unless you're Mozart, it's going to be a long journey. Suit up and get ready for it.

 

I didn't start playing guitar or writing songs until I was about 20 -- and guess what -- I sucked at 20!

 

So, the way I look at it, since you're going to have to suck for a while when you're just starting out, maybe it's better to get it out of the way when you're a kid and no one expects too much, anyhow.

 

;)

 

 

oldnewbie's got a good point, too -- broken hearts and lost friends and loved ones come all too soon for most of us.

 

But if you've got a poetic soul (you should pardon the expression), your imagination can carry you to places you've never been -- and maybe don't want to go.

 

I've written about being homeless, but happily, it's something I've only confronted in my fearful imagination. I've written from what would appear to be the point of view of a junkie, as well, and though I've lost too many friends to illegal drugs (I'm old and I've known a lot of people over the years), the drug that ended up getting the best of me was good ol' alcohol. (Of course, I've lost friends to the bottle, too. They're just as dead.) I've written from the point of a trailer trash guy whose wife becomes a blank-eyed supermodel -- and I've never even been married, let alone, had a supermodel GF. ;) I even wrote a song from the point of view of the last of the team of assasins who [in the song] killed JFK; he's drinking away his last days in Algiers, waiting to be silenced, once and for all.

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I'm 15, I've been writing since I was 13, I wrote plenty of meaningful stuff at 14. The problem I encountered when first writing was writing about something that I really wasn't inspired about. I would try to write love songs, and they came out sounding incredibly cliche, because they weren't fueled by real love. I think that happens to alot of songwriters. Writing about love is a very hard thing to do.

 

Some suggestions:

Don't sit down to try to write a song, wait until you are inspired.

To inspire yourself, listen to music out of your typical genre.

If all else fails, go live for inspiration. Its tough to write a song when your sitting at home all the time, or doing the same old things. Go for a long walk at night, meditate, do fun things. You will feel inspired.

 

good luck.

And by the way, I read you mentioned you didn't think the Chili Peppers were good music. Aside from being a huge fan, I look at it like this:

Anthony Keidis- an excellent lyricist, interesting person, not the best of singers, but gets the job done.

John Frusciante- In my opinion, the most talented muscian alive. I reccomend checking out his solo stuff, its some of my favorite music.

Flea- by far the best bassist alive

Chad Smith- an excellent funk drummer, provides the backbone.

:)

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well, since you're jumping into the song-writing forum I think I'll make my first post here as well... most of my posts have been in the guitar/amp/effects sections, but this is what I want to start focusing on..

 

I started writing lyrics around 14 and I look back in my book of lyrics (I'm 18 now) and I can't believe some of the ridiculous stuff I wrote about. Stuff I had never really experienced, but I wrote about it anyway. It was a good exercise at the time. Actually, I just finished the first song the I've been really pleased with, haha..

 

Keep it up dude, you'll only get better at it over time...

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Just something to keep in mind...in ten years, you'll look back on your first song and want to cringe. It's inevitable. Not to say your first song is going to be bad. But eventually, you're probably going to think it is anyway. It's all a part of growing as a songwriter. Heck, I can't even get behind songs I've written two years ago. And I'm 29.

 

So just do it, and have fun, and know this song isn't going to make or break you. Right now, it's the beginning of a long process of finding your voice, and getting better at it. Your other band members should probably keep this in mind too. Hopefully this'll save you guys from further uneccessary conflict.

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I know were you're at! I'm 24 now, but I began writing songs at age 11. You can't expect to immediately become a great lyricist...yes, life experience helps, but having a poetic nature helps even more. And judging from your diction and general writing skills, you're on the right path.

 

I use to record my songs on a old 4 track tape deck when I was 11, and to listen to them now reminds me of how far I've come. I laugh at how serious I was trying to be as a naive kid. Anyway, the point is that you need to practice. Not every song you write is going to be a masterpiece, Thom Yorke didn't start off writing masterpieces, neither did Morrissey, but you can bet that they wrote a ton of songs, practiced their craft, and did things to better their songwriting abilities.

 

READ, READ, READ! Developing a poetic sensibility is key to lyrical development. Shakespeare won't hurt at all. Start reading and writing poetry. Dracula is a fun read, but probably won't help you develop poetic sensibility. Emily Dickinson, Elisabeth Bishop, Emerson, Sylvia Plath, (You may like reading Edgar Allan Poe), Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, William Blake, T.S. Eliot, and Langston Hughes. I could go on and on...but the point is, the musicians you love are all highly well-read and intelligent people (and they're all a bit of an outsider). You'll do well with lyrics if you develop a good understanding poetic structure.

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Just something to keep in mind...in ten years, you'll look back on your first song and want to cringe. It's inevitable. Not to say your first song is going to be bad. But eventually, you're probably going to think it is anyway. It's all a part of growing as a songwriter. Heck, I can't even get behind songs I've written two years ago. And I'm 29.


So just do it, and have fun, and know this song isn't going to make or break you. Right now, it's the beginning of a long process of finding your voice, and getting better at it. Your other band members should probably keep this in mind too. Hopefully this'll save you guys from further uneccessary conflict.

Keep those 'old' songs, though! Put them away somewhere where you won't have to look at them but someday -- trust me -- you'll need a smile. Heck, maybe you'll be showing them to your own kids, saying, don't be ashamed if your first songs aren't that great, take a look at Dad's first tune.

 

;)

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Just something to keep in mind...in ten years, you'll look back on your first song and want to cringe. It's inevitable. Not to say your first song is going to be bad. But eventually, you're probably going to think it is anyway. It's all a part of growing as a songwriter. Heck, I can't even get behind songs I've written two years ago. And I'm 29.


So just do it, and have fun, and know this song isn't going to make or break you. Right now, it's the beginning of a long process of finding your voice, and getting better at it. Your other band members should probably keep this in mind too. Hopefully this'll save you guys from further uneccessary conflict.

Keep those 'old' songs, though! Put them away somewhere where you won't have to look at them but someday -- trust me -- you'll need a smile. Heck, maybe you'll be showing them to your own kids, saying, don't be ashamed if your first songs aren't that great, take a look at Dad's first tune.

 

;)

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Hmm, I'm going to have to disagree with a lot of these replies. As true as it may be that there is no replacement for experience, it's just as true that there is no replacement for youth and innocence. I don't mean innocence as in naivete, but more in the sense that you haven't "been there, and done that" a million times. For a new songwriter the next song he or she writes about love will be the first. That's very powerful thing. A fourteen-year-old is experiencing emotions and life-changes that a thirty-something can only remember with nostalgia. The hard part, of course, is developing the tools to express those feelings clearly.

 

In addition, there is a whole world of young listeners that will be able to identify with what you produce. That is worth a lot.

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